There are many factors propagating the unhealthy physical standards that fashion models are held to, and that they in turn hold other women in society to. Blame it on the agents, casting directors, or designers themselves - we've all heard stories where a model is sent packing and told to come back when she loses a few inches. Or, blame it on editors, who took literally forever to put half of Mindy Kaling on the cover of one of their glossies. Or just blame it on Terry Richardson. (I always do.)
I'm not denying that models do have it rough, and I'm not ignorant enough to think they're just genetically superior fairies who went from total obscurity to the cover of Vogue simply because they are #blessed. It takes a lot of hard work - physical and mental - not to mention tireless networking, constant exposure to being judged and exploited, very little sleep, and an often very unhealthy diet. ("Naturally thin" be damned.)
Still, there are few things more grating than when models talk about how they regularly indulge in burgers and pizza. Except when they talk about how hard they have been rallying to bring a "different" look to the industry and change the unhealthy standards...
....when they are a size 4 (max), blonde, blue-eyed, thin, and white.
US Weekly ran an article today titled "Gigi Hadid Says She Was Told To Lose Weight To Model: 'My Thighs Were Huge. I Ate Like A Man!' "
There are, like, ten things wrong with the title of that article alone, and I'm not absolving US Weekly for part of the blame for that, on counts of sensationalism alone.
But, click-baity headline aside, within the article itself, it gets worse.
The gist of the story is this: Before focusing on modeling full-time, Hadid played volleyball, ate a lot, started hearing from agents that she was "too fat" for jobs (boo!), but then embraced her body (yay!).
The problems in the story start with the outrageous title and are in full effect by the first few sentences:
“I had like crazy muscles and I [ate] like a man — more than the man that I eat like now, like a bigger man — and it was crazy but at the time I didn't care what my body looked like, I just wanted to be the best volleyball player I could be so it didn't really matter to me.”
What does this say about not only stereotypes about models, but gender stereotypes, as well? And if "eating like a man" means "eating a lot to sustain an active lifestyle" that are we to believe that the opposite of that is to "eat like a woman"? And, what kind of world are we living in where a woman can either be an athlete or a fashion model?
One of the main elements in the story is to "embrace what you have", and I'm 100% behind that.
“Once I started modeling, one of my things was like yeah, I don't need to be a man volleyball player but I also don't want to be like two pounds soaking wet. [And] that's always something that I was very strong minded about."
But the problem is that this message is buried under layers and layers of dismorphia about her body. (Does she really think she has a double chin, thick thighs and a big butt??) Or, alternately, perhaps she's just been in the industry for so long (she's been mugging for Guess since she was a child, and was raised by a model mamma) that she has been completely brainwashed into truly believing that someone whose measurements are 34"-25"-35" is somehow pushing the boundaries of what is considered thin.
She goes on to say that she broke the mold when she nabbed a Tom Ford campaign, proving that curvy girls can be high fashion, too.
“It’s funny because once you start to embrace what you have, it starts to be what you’re known for,” the breakout star continued. “I’m kind of the model that everyone thought would always be the Guess, Sports Illustrated girl, then when I started to do high fashion stuff…people were like, ‘Oh so we can have a girl with like thighs and a butt in a Tom Ford campaign, cool.’”
Not to diminish her success in anyway (hey, a Tom Ford campaign is pretty killer!) but correct me if I'm wrong; wasn't the famously buxom Lara Stone a Tom Ford campaign star long before Hadid?
Another thing that I couldn't help but notice is that Gigi is quick to imply that her body-pos outlook is courageous, but when Mindy Kaling, an equally beautiful woman who just happens to be several sizes larger than Gigi, is called "courageous" for wearing whatever she wants, she balks. "Thanks, but my crop top is not courageous," she famously said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel.
The article's plot line is pretty confusing, and I'm not sure what the moral of the story is supposed to be. Did she triumph by ignoring those agents who told her she was too fat and ultimately go on to succeed and nab major campaigns? Or did she conform and stop eating "like a man"?
"I just want to be a healthy role model and I haven't swayed from that at all.”
It's a nice sentiment, but until she removes misguided comments about her double chin and references to her slender frame as "large" from her personal narrative, I just don't see that happening.